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A Monthly Bulletin devoted to matters of interest to The Sydney Bushwalkers, 5 Hamilton Street, Sydney
|Assistant Editor||Dorothy Brigden|
|Sales & Subscriptions||Jen Harvey|
|Fires in Kiola State Forest||by Dot Butler||4|
|What is a Primitive Area?||by Marie B. Byles||5|
|Bruce Simpson to “Dunk”||The Services||6|
|Some Grains of Salt||8|
|The Y.H.A. on the March||Len Croker||9|
|Let there be Light||“Ubi”||11|
There are camp spots, good and plenty
And the genus S.B.W.
Will be there.
By the sea and by the river,
We will doze,
In our tents all nicely abdulled
We will burn up all the rubbish -
How can beauty rule the bushland
If we don't?
When we're packing up ere leaving
Is the place all clean and tidy?
Camp fire out?
In these days of war and separation how good it is to look back on the carefree days of my early walking experiences! To recall the bustle at Central on Saturdays, the anticipation during the train journey and the rush to be first on the track.
My first club walk was a Easter trip through Megalong and Carlon's to the Cox. It was my second trip to the mountains, I being a newcomer from another State. My first trip had been to Jenolan Caves. I can still picture Green Gully knee high with luscious, green grass - and nettles, the creek glistening in the early morning sun, Carlon's tucked away in the folds on the hills and the walk along Breakfast Creek as it wended its way to the Cox. We came near the foot of Mt. Heartbreaker and explored up and down the river.
Another Easter I had my first view of Kanagra Walls and the Kowmung. How many club mates recall the ride from Katoomba that Easter Thursday night - the bright moonlight, the wallabies hopping across the road, rumbling through the Grand Arch at two in teh morning and the arrival at the saw-mill and making camp in the frosty stillness? My first glimpse of Kanangra was at sunset on a cold, clear evening. Purple shadows and swirls of white mist forming in the valley impressed me in the same way as Wagnerian music. The same majesty and unreality was there.
How different were the many Summer weekends spent camped down at Emu Plains, Era or by the Grose River end the lazy Winter days spent basking in the sun at Morella, Euroka or the famous “Willy's Pool”. How I remember the discussions - the way we would alter the world if only we had a chance, music, books, art, cooking and sewing, birth, marriage and death all got mixed up together somehow.
It was Paddy Pallin who said that the best part of a holiday is planning it beforehand and reminiscing after. I know now that he is right. The fun we had planning our Tasmanian trip and the talking about it when it was part of the past were, I think, the best part of it. It took us about six months to get everything worked out and it was worth it. We had twelve days on the island and not one minute was wasted; everything went like clockwork and the cost was only about £11 per head. This was the occasion when we saw our first snow. What a thrill when our service car travelling from the Ouse to Derwent Bridge ran into a lovely snowstorm! The other passengers must have thought that we were mad as we Ohed and Ahed and wondered out aloud what it would feel like. Eventually our driver got out, gathered a huge armful and heaved it all over us. We felt it sure enough - down our backs and in our hair.
The next holiday saw another party on its way from Braidwood to the coast via Araluon and the Deua River. The very name “Araluen” describes this valley. Quiet and peaceful, it looks as if it has been asleep for years. It is hard to imagine it in the gold rush days when coaches and bushrangers held sway. I don't remember anything so tranquil as the view that held our gaze that warm Spring noon as we came around the bend of the road and saw the valley at our feet.
Later there were trips down the Clyde River and Durras Waters through the beautiful State Forests of the Murramarang Range. Here we wandered for miles under stately spotted gums, occasionally catching glimpses of the coastline through the trees. I like to recall lovely Kioloa Beach in the late afternoon, deserted but for the seagulls, and Pebbly Beach where there is no sand, only millions of coloured pebbles that shine like opals when washed by the tide.
My first glimpse of the Blue Gum is another gem in my memories. A clear moonlight night in June - King's Birthday - was the occasion. The descent from Govett's Leap and the walk through the valley was a journey into the unknown. The cliffs all around and the ghostly moonlight reminded me of stories by Rider Haggard. I've enjoyed many camps at Blue Gum since this one but it I remember the best.
One could continue indefinitely recalling trips. Those to Clear Hill, Solitary, the Kowmung and Cedar Road, canoeing in Burragorang Valley, wandering along the Nattai and the Shoalhaven, exploring Bungonia Creek and the glens around Bundanoon, camping on the merry, little Broughton Mill Stream at Berry, not to mention Kangaroo Valley, Yeola and Brogher's Creek. What scratches we used to get up O'Hare's Creek and along Heathcote Creek, the Woronora, the Bargo and the Upper Nepean. The orchards around Kurrajong, the lovely trees at Canberra, picking apples at Batlow and oranges at Gosford - these are a few of the things I like to recall.
The fun and sing-songs around camp-fires and the open discussions, starry skies and frosty mornings, hearty meals and the ever cheerful company are all part of the fellowship of Bushwalkers. How many “old members” recall the 21st birthday party at Euroka complete with fireworks, cream puffs and a ten pound birthday cake with icing and candles? Or the other at St. Helena when everyone got lost on the way home - except Ray Bean? Or the engagement party at Myara and the honeymoon at the Blue Pool when the bride and groom arrived with no food and china plates and cups?
Reunions never fail to revive memories. There come to mind the famous Lie Detector, beautiful Asyseener, Queen of the Myuna Men,“beaut” dampers, Roley's custard.
These are the things I like to think back upon and which I look forward to in the days to come. These are the things that make life worthwhile. Don't you agree?
The Federation Dance at Winns on June 29th, was an outstanding success and (“wot is more important”, as the mercenary organisers might say) realised over £30 for the Federation's bank balance.
The dancing was interspersed with sketches, and all went merry as a marriage bell. In accordance with the expressed wish of the Federation there was a complete absence of liquor but, fortunately, hitting below the belt in the sketches was not prohibited. Otherwise the orchestra would probably have had to be restrained from playing hymns.
Fires in Kiolea State Forest! Horror! and lit by Bushwalkers! Worse and Worse!
We were to be guests of the Forestry Dept., and Marie as sponsor of the trip went through periodical spaces of apprehension seeing with a forward gazing eye the charred and blackened ruins of what had once been a beautiful spotted gum forest, virgin and unknown to fire until our visitation.
Our select party of five and two halves, (not counting Rona who is still in square pants and can hardly be tagged with any number east of the decimal point), all of the feminine persuasion, travelled some 200 miles south per train and service car and Forestry lorry and were finally unstacked at Pebbly Beach on a clearing formerly the site of a sawmill. From a background of mountains the forest, untamed and beautiful, swept down to the curved sea shore, and the small clearing with its few derelict huts of rough sewn timber slept quietly within the ridges' safe encircling arms.
The driver of the Forestry lorry pointed out a tank of water he had placed under a tree for our use and departed with our hearty thanks for the Department's many kindnesses.
We Selected a camp site close enough to the trees for shade and firewood, and also close to a nice patch of bracken for bedding. It was some distance from the tank, but that just couldn't be helped. After all, a Bushwalker always expects to have to travel for his water.
As there appeared to be foraging cattle in the neighbourhood it was deemed advisable to store our perishable goods in one of the most intact of the huts. So that problem was easily solved. But hold, reader, we now come to the most important point of the story - Where was the fire to be made? Marie's anti-bushfire propaganda had fallen on such fertile ground that we couldn't agree an a spot that would be sufficiently safe to suit everyone. Definitely it couldn't be made near the tents because of the proximity of the dry bracken, and it couldn't go up near the trees because the ground was covered with dry forest litter that had never suffered the fate of most of the country we know so well which is burnt bare to the ground every summer, ruining it as a catchment area and opening the gates wide to soil erosion. Eventually we decided on a clear area of bare earth well removed from everything combustible, and Julie and Francis, the two little girls, were appointed chief fire “putter-outers”, a job they undertook with such zeal that you had to be pretty smart getting all your meal prepared if you didn't want the fire extinguished before you had finished your cooking. After every meal the same ritual was performed. First the embers were beaten flat and generally mixed up till no sign of red remained, then the water buckets were emptied over the ashes and the whole lot puddled about till you could stand in it in your bare feet, smiling.
So that is the sort of fire I was referring to in my first paragraph when I spoke of Bushwalkers fires, and that is the sort of treatment Bushwalkers fires should get everywhere, always. For suppose instead of our ruthlessly-repressed little cooking fires which scarcely dusted the green forest air with faint blue smoke I had to paint the picture suggested by the title of this piece - a raging roaring monster, unleashed by Bushwalkers, ravening through the dappled green beauty of spotted gums, belching smoke and flames and leaving a scene overwhelmed by black ruin! Ah, that would be another story.
by Marie B. Byles
Recent discussions about the Kosciusko primitive area have revealed a definite cleavage of opinion as to what a primitive area should be.
The minority opinion regards a primitive area as a place where nature-lovers may go freely in order to see the wildlife in its natural state. It is to be educational, and therefore of use to human beings. It is asserted that a primitive area would serve no purpose if human beings were not to have the pleasure of seeing it. There is also the important point that perhaps the only way of keeping the wild life is to educate mankind to appreciate and enjoy it.
If it is once admitted that a primitive area exists for the pleasure of human beings, then it automatically follows that facilities must be given for human beings to go into it. Perhaps roads and motorists might be excluded, but tracks, huts and pasture grounds must be arranged. Indeed the people who best appreciate wild plants and animals (as distinct from far horizons and beauty spots) are not the bushwalkers tough enough to rush through the bush with heavy packs containing tents, but the older people, who are nature-lovers rather than trampers and need a hut. If a primitive area is to serve the interests of human beings, to be consistent we must admit that all types of human beings, who will not wantonly destroy it, must be catered for within its precincts, and personally-conducted parties led by scientists would be the most acceptable of all visitors.
However, the vast majority of bushwalkers have ruled that a primitive area must be for the wild life, which shall flourish there, not for our pleasure, but for its own. After all, why should man in his arrogance say that primaeval lands are of value only in so far as they subserve his ends. Is not this the vicious old profit motive coming out in another form? The Romans stripped the Dalmatian hills in quest of timber to build their empire. Kidman blasted a trail of ruin across Australia to build a fortune. It is true that people who want a primitive area only because it satisfies a human desire, would not ruin it like Kidman or the Romans, but their motives are the same, profit to themselves, mental or physical, if not material.
Cannot man for once admit that there are other things beside himself with rights, and that he is not the only being in the universe? The majority of bushwalkers say he can and should. Human beings will not be excluded from the primitive area but no facilities for entering it will be given, and the flowers may blossom and the kangaroos and wombats enjoy their lives there, whether any one sees them or not.
(River Canoe Club)
No.29. - Murray River (Tolwong to Albury) compiled and drawn by Gordon Ballard.
No.30. - Central and Northern Lake Illawarra (this, together with its companion (southern Lake Illawarra– Map No.15) completes the mapping for canoeing purposes of the entire lake).
Have just received your letter of the 15th April and as I have been thinking of dropping you a line for some time now and as there is no time like the present, here goes. You know, I think, that I am in New Guinea. I sent you a lettercard from here just before Christmas, and you will have guessed that I have been in action for a couple of months now - you said “I wonder where you are making your presence felt now, and what fun you are having.” As for where I am, the newspapers will give you the exact locations. I am not permitted to say any more than “I am in New Guinea.” But then there is only one campaign going on in N.G. at present, so it should not be hard to guess. And I will say this - the War Correspondents are being given a pretty free hand in reporting this campaign. You are getting the dinkum oil on this show, just as soon as it happens. There is no delay in releasing information on this campaign. We see the Sydney and Brisbane newspapers the day after you do and I am often surprised how up-to-the-minute they are. Australian National Airways give us a great service in this regard. For months past their plane - a big Silver Douglas - has flown right over every one of our positions along the coast and dropped yesterday's Sydney and Brisbane newspapers to the troops right from the front line back to base. And boy! there sure is a race and a scramble for those papers - at least in our areas, for of course artillery positions are comparatively safe, being behind the protective infantry and in parts of this country you're out of view of the enemy at fifty yards. Sometimes however, its quite different.
One day the “newspaper bomber” circled our gun position twice, came in very low and tossed us a couple of parcels. Imagine the excitement when it was discovered that the larger parcel contained twenty Peters Ice Cream Bricks! It was like manna from Heaven. A gift from Peters' Brisbane Manager. And very much appreciated by all. Nobody ever thought they'd see ice cream in this part of the world, much less be eating it in the front line! And the other parcel contained a fruit cake baked the day before by the pilot's next door neighbour in Brisbane who wanted to do something for the boys up north. And that was very much appreciated by all too. At that time (end of February) we ware still waiting for our Christmas parcels to arrive!
As you have probably read in the papers, our guns have been blasting the Nips to some order for some time now, and our advance has been steady and successful. Nippon is being driven back further and further - will soon have his back to the wall.
I take my hat off to the infantry - they are doing a marvellous job in those cruel mountains. We consider it an honour to give them all the support we can, whenever and wherever they require it. They're heroes, every blinkin' one of 'em.
At present I am resting - this battery is out for a week or so - and we are bivouac'd by the sea. It is a pleasant break before we go in again. Here we are getting fresh (frozen) meat and butter several times a week. It is flown in and dropped by parachute by the “kai bombers” and a very welcome change it is from tinned rations - bully beef, M & V, service biscuits and dehydrated vegetables etc. I'm afraid I won't take too kindy to lightweight walking when I get back. My pack will contain great hunks of steak, bags of bananas, peaches and cream - and the mileage for the weekend walk must not exceed ten! There'll be a lot of “armchair walkers” in the Clubs after the war, I reckon.
We have our lighter moments here at times. For instance, the boong boy who went past this morning, riding an old Jap bicycle up the track. It had no tyres, no brakes, no oil, very little seat, and he was pushing like hell to make it go through the sand. But he had the usual cheery smile on his face. And in reply to my greeting “How are you going, Joseph?” he grinned even more broadly and said “Wheely-wheel belonga me, 'e bugger-up finish”. I like their language - it is so expressive. “Bugger-up finish” - a very common expression - needs no explanation. But perhaps I should mention that a bicycle is “wheely-wheel sit-down run”, which is quite a good description of a push-bike isn't it?
They hate the Japs, these boys, and their tenderness and devotion to duty in carrying our wounded out of those terrible hills is a legend, and every word of it is true. I hope the Government and the people do not forget them when the war is over. I can assure you there are hundreds of soldiers who will never forget them. For many owe their lives to these brave and faithful stretcher bearers. They have performed seemingly impossible tasks in getting our wounded to the dressing stations in time for the doctors to perform the operation that has saved another life. We must not forget these things.
And now Dunk, apart from saying I'm well and as happy as can be expected under the circumstances, there's not much more to tell you at the moment. Give my regards to all my Bushwalker friends, and thank them one and all for the good work they have done and are doing for us who are in the Services by their assistance to the Service Committee.
I still receive those magazines and copies of the “Sydney Bushwalker” that you send me from time to time and they are more welcome than ever in this place where reading matter is so scarce, and those Bushwalker snapshots of the places that I used to know and others that I went to see after the war are a constant link with good old Aussie and the cobbers of the bush tracks and mountain trails.
Thanks for everything, Dunk, especially your bright and breezy letters.
27th July - Party in Clubroom
11th and 12th August - Sports Carnival
If you already have dates for these occasions don't let that prevent your attendance - bring her or him along too.
In a recent Club meeting the tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to a speaker (male) describing the hapless, helpless position of girls desiring to go walking but without Big Brothers or Prospects. To my Utter Confusion, information has come to my ears which greatly reduces my chances of being a Shepherd Of Lost Sheep. Christa Calnan and Norm. Barden recently completed a week out Yerranderie way, meeting no fiercer Wolf than a prospector. I wonder if, in similar circumstances, a celebrated nugget received the name of The Welcome Stranger?
The other intrepid pair were Sally Mackay and Peggy Bransdon who proposed to walk to Kanangra and back. These poor unfortunates chose the Wet Week for their jaunt yet put up a most creditable performance. A car load of June-Weekenders found them walking along the Kanangra Road at about 1.00 a.m. after leaving the Kowmung that morning.
Very Creditable Performances have also been recorded for Ossie Brownlee who has a Second Daughter and Ray Bean, now the father of a Son and Daughter. When John Noble heard the latter news he is reported to have uttered the now famous words “What Next”? We have always considered Ray to be Ingenious.
Father for the First Time - and it's a Daughter - is John Hunter. It is so melancholy to have to add “Of course MA was Joan Atthill, well known to many members of the Club”. However, there are so many new members about and it is not likely that they would all be Noted Collectors of Pix or Cover Girls.
Following upon all these acquisitions I have to report the loss of Something Not So Easily Acquired - to wit, one Umbrella by Tuggie with all ribs in good order and condition. Will members search their Hearts and Umbrella Stands and see if they have not mistakenly taken it from the Club?.
We recently admired very much the examples of the Photographic Art displayed in the Club rooms. David Stead, however, made sure that we noted the fine grain in his work by installing Two 200,000 watt globes near his “Chefs D'Oeuvre.” Stop me if there should have been a Decimal Point somewhere.
King's Birthday Weekend coming at the end of flooding rains provided a great Variety of experiences for Bushwalkers. One car could not reach its destination on account of flood in the Wollondilly but I shall not spoil the numerous articles which will be written about these trips by stealing the highlights.
However, as I am Not expecting any disclosures from this particular quarter, I do not hesitate to report that Colin Lloyd's party found the going so difficult down Bundanoon way, that progress was found to work out at about Six Miles in Twelve Hours. Colin, not the Boy he Was, was travelling with a Hand Picked Harem.
The only new country reached seems to be the Tinderry Range outside Canberra. Alec Colley was the “Stout Cortez” here and waxed enthusiastic particularly in regard to one “Real” peak.
by Len Croker.
Among other movements the National Fitness Council controls the Youth Hostels Association whose members go out into the bush to stay at hostels and walk through the Australian countryside. Many jokes have been made about Youth Hostellers as walkers because most of them are beginners, but here's a report about one party of Y.H.A. youngsters who stood up to a walk as hard as most Bushwalking Club test walks.
Five girls, whose ages ranged from 17 to 19, a boy about 16 and a young man about 22 comprised the party which I had to lead from Towlers Bay, on Pitt Water, to Refuge Bay, on Cowan Creek, one Sunday this Autumn. I had not been over the route before and had to cut across country most of the way using map and compass and hoping to find a good track.
We climbed, first, to the lookout above Towlers Bay Hostel, with the party, not knowing what was ahead of them, commenting in acrid terms about the steepness of the climb. The view from this lookout was very pretty. We could see Barrenjoey Lighthouse and the waves breaking in towards Palm Beach from the open sea, though the beach itself was hidden by that narrow strip of land which runs from Barrenjoey to the mainland. Scotland Island, just across the water, hid most of Church Pt. from view, while, just below us, little white fishing boats floated in the blue as their tiny occupants concentrated upon the task of catching fish.
From the lookout we walked along a good track to Bairn Trig (596ft) and from here obtained an even better view of Pitt Water. The party was still getting along well and becoming quite keen about a walk which yielded such delightful scenery. We could now see Box Head opposite Barrenjoey and the open sea, spreading away into the distance from the entrance of Broken Bay and as far down as Newport.
A ridge lade, in an arc, from Bairn Trig to Topham Trig, so, since we no longer had a track to follow and walking along ridges is generally easier, we followed the ridge through typical Hawkesbury country. Autumn wild flowers were plentiful and we saw plenty of golden yellow bottle brush and other attractive bush flowers. Approaching Topham we crossed West Head Road before starting an arduous climb. Topham Mountain is very rocky and steep and we found no tracks on either side to make the task of climbing it easier. However, after much effort we finally reached the top.
A marvellous view of Broken Bay is obtainable from Topham Mountain, which is one of the highest places for many miles around, and all lovers of beautiful scenery should make a point of climbing it. From Topham we could again see Towlers Bay as a beautiful blue triangle pointing towards us with a little white boat floating in the centre, while the entrance to Broken Bay stood out clearly with Box Head on the far side opposite Barrenjoey Lighthouse which always gives one a friendly, familiar feeling as it is a distinctive land-mark visible from many well-known scenic resorts. West Head blocked part of Broken Bay from view, but to the north-west we could see the Hawkesbury Bridge running from Long Island to the mainland and Dangar Island just to the right of Long Island. To the east beyond Pitt Water the sea spread away into the horizon.
The National Fitness Camp at Juno was clearly visible from Topham and, past Juno, was the long yellow ribbon of Patonga Beach. Over to the left, north of the Hawkesbury, a smudge of smoke rose into the cloudless blue sky as a train approached the Bridge.
Unfortunately I cannot continue to extoll th views obtainable from Topham, but I must once more repeat that those who appreciate the rare beauty of the Hawkesbury country should pay Topham a visit as soon as possible because the recent rains have given all this country a rich greenness, which cut into by the blue water of many bays and inlets, provides scenery of unusual charm.
We clambered down Topham and here began our troubles because the Refuge Bay side of Topham is very steep and rugged and the travelling slow. Half way down we struck fresh running water in the form of a stream which tumbled down the mountain-side in merry contempt of our clumsy movements. However our descent to the beach at Refuge Bay came to an end and some members of the party started the fire while the rest walked around to see the waterfall which is near the head of the Bay.
The waterfall was running in great style, falling about 50ft down the cliff on to a flat rock just behind a little beach where anyone could easily have a fresh-water shower after swimming in the salt water. This pretty waterfall and the little beach in front of it make Refuge Bay one of the well-known places in the area.
Immediately after lunch we began the return trip to Towlers Bay, making the elementary error of trying to find an easier route than the one we had come on. As usual, the route we followed was much harder than the original, with the result that we found ourselves climbing over boulders, walking ?? and making our way through thick undergrowth. We realised that this country was very rough indeed, when, after circling around Topham Mountain we decided to cut across country to Towlers Bay. The best way from here would have been to follow the ridge back again to Bairn Trig.
On reaching Towlers Bay we just had time for a shower before catching the motor boat back to Church Point. Youth Hostel Association members had proved once more that they are capable of completing arduous bush walks.
If so, let's hear about it …..
By adding on all his fingers and thumbs and two toes, the most backward reader should be able to satisfy himself that there are twelve pages to be filled in this magazine. How much have you submitted during the last year?
If you have not done any trips, have no imagination, are incoherent illiterate and purposeless, you are excused, otherwise; your duty is obvious.
Typrewritten, Double-spaces articles will be most welcome.
Whenever we have the good fortune to come across glow worms, luminous fungi or any of the many organisms which, in certain circumstances give off light, we almost invariably bestow upon the phenomenon the name of “phosphorescence”. Had we omniscience we would indicate the cause or means of production of the light by use of one of the numerous “-scences” which scientists have coined in the course of their research. Fortunately, however, most of us can enjoy the spectacle and remain blissfully ignorant of the frightening immensity of one small branch of human knowledge.
One is so used to realisation being disappointing after the embroidery of preconceived ideas that the reverse comes as a shock. That was the predominant thought in my mind after witnessing the display put on by our lagoon on the South Coast of Queensland.
It was a very dark night as we crossed the bridge but a shower of rockets shot across the water. Our eager curiosity was aroused and, as we gazed from the rails of the bridge, more trails of light appeared in the inkiness of the water. The water was phosphorescent to a degree which I would not have credited had I not been an eye witness. Everyone can picture the way a shoal of fish dart and scatter when disturbed. Put them in a phosphorescent lagoon and you have an effect like a swarm of meteors such as the Leonids - if the photographs do not lie.
Almost in a frenzy we threw stones of all sizes into the water to admire the effect - small stones by the handful to give a momentary illumination and large ones to cause a ring of light as the resultant wave spread before finally dissipating itself. Then followed a series of experiments to endeavour to find a way to convey to people an understanding of the amount of light which was in the pool. This was not easy but we found that the movement of the fish immediately below us on the bridge caused sufficient light for us to see both their shape and colour though it was a pitch black night.
The luminescence in this instance was caused by countless myriads of an animalicule which is invisible to the naked eye but which requires movement to operate. On numerous occasions during the succeeding months we tested out the lagoon but never again did it remotely approach its brilliance of the occasion I have described.
Some months later a friend and I decided to go for a surf about ten o'clock one night as it was still very warm. Upon arriving at the beach we found that the froth of the waves was bright as though flood-lit. To the exhilaration of surfing at night was added the beauty and novelty of being engulfed, as the wave broke, in a shower of light. The spray had a quality of diamonds darting a brittle beam but the tracts of foam were warm and caressing and wrapped themselves around the body with the delicious comfort of white furs.
Such a surf would be sufficiently unique but both Nature and Man contrived to make it into a Homeric drama with decor in black and white. For, as searchlights from the headlands on the shore impudently explored the black clouds, a fierce electrical storm flashed back its disdain. We, in the wings, felt immeasurably insignificant as the leading actors declaimed on the stage but, in the warm, sparkling surf, met a friend in a modest but human role.
I had heard of Natural Arch at the head of the Numinbah Valley long before I went there because the road signposts all gave the distance. There is no occasion to be alarmed, however, for, though in a small National Park and close to a road, it is very attractive and unspoilt. Here Cave Creek, coming in from Springbrook, has cut its way underground and falls into the back of a large cave through which it then runs. The stream is confined to a channel on one side which enables one to penetrate on foot right to the back of the cave. The surrounding country is jungle, the creek's course as a consequence very beautiful and all circumstances combine to make a unique and pleasing reserve.
I was telling a chap in town that I had been to Natural Arch and he asked me, “Were you there at night?” Upon my replying “No” he began the old, “the-garden's-ragged-now-but-you-should-have-seen-it-last-week formula; I myself have repeated it on many an occasion.
A few weeks later I, in the company of a friend, was able to arrange another visit and we planned to arrive just before dark in order to see the scenery first in the daylight. We accomplished this and then made a fire and prepared a billy of tea while the light was fading.
Very excitedly we noticed he first glow-worms showing quite soon until the whole of the portals, walls and the floor of the cave was alight. Before the daylight had completely gone the mixture of lights gave an effect like the Milky Way on a hazy night but the later, deep darkness of the jungle contracted the drops of light to a Winter crispness. Not to be outdone by foreigners a few fire-flies sailed around the cavern's mouth.
In the cave we studied the glow-worms at close quarters and in comfort. Here the light of the insects had a definite blue colour not unlike mercury vapour lamps but the most peculiar trait of the worms was their apparent ability to make the bead of light in their body behave like the spirit in a spirit level. And don't think that glow-worms are shy creatures; on the contrary, they put on such a brilliant display for our unabashed and exclamatory scrutiny that I am prepared to believe that they are exhibitionists.
Eastward our watching hopes in sunshine lie.
Love gilds the tremulous veil of waiting thus -
Here coldly drifts the pallid vapour by;
Toward the East the fog is luminous.
J. Le Gay Brereton.